|Day 6, Friday, January 4, 2002
This was a day we spent entirely at MGM.
We were up at 7 a.m. again, but werenít very speedy at getting ready (although we had breakfast in the room again, thanks to the minifridge and kitchenette in the Old Key West studio).
By the time we were out of the room, it was nearing 10 a.m., so we had a moderately late start at MGM. We went straight down to the end of Sunset Boulevard.
We pulled a Fast Pass for Rock N Roller Coaster, then went to wait in line for Tower of Terror. Nick usually does exactly one ride per trip on Tower Of Terror, but this time talked himself out of it. He says that he doesnít mind the drop, but is disturbed by the spooky part of the ride which precedes the drop. So, he went to wait at the chicken seats at the exit of the guest shop while Debbie and I stood in line for Tower of Terror.
It was extremely cold as we stood in the outside part of the queue. It was slow enough to really enjoy the scenery and the views of the tower on the winding path. It would have been even more fun if not for the cold morning air. But, it was still a fun queue, and getting inside the building was a welcome warmup! We enjoyed the last part of the queue even more!
It really is a fun queue inside the building, with the musty atmosphere, and the little touches like the coat and hat resting on the front desk, covered with dust. Rod Serlingís (look alike) introduction in the library is also a lot of fun.
The early part of the ride just seemed to get to me this time, or maybe itís just the anticipation, but I had some real trepidation built up by the time we got to the drop. I was very nervous, agitated, waiting for the drop. But, it was exhilarating, feeling the rush on the way down when we were weightless.
It was a terrific ride, and we spent a few minutes in the gift shop (didnít get the photo, though). Nick had been spending some of his time in the gift shop while we were riding, and had a couple of indispensable items picked out. They had some R.L. Stine books on the shelf, which seemed appropriate. Nick had to have one of those, and a tag with the ride name and his name on it (though he did *NOT* ride TOT this time).
Debbie, in the mean time, had gone out on the sidewalk and found a fancy coffee stand. After she had finished her coffee, we went over to Rock And Roller Coaser, because it was Fast Pass time. It worked out perfectly, and we were on the ride shortly. So, we stood in one line for two rides.
Rock And Roller Coaser is another terrific ride. We had a great soundtrack this time, and it is a blast being swept away in the music and kind of leaning into the motion of this fast and furious ride. If anything, it seemed a little too short this time.
|Next, it was on to The Fifties Prime Time Cafe for our 1 p.m. priority
seating. Sadly, Prime Time was a big disappointment this time.
The food was good as always. I had the meat loaf, which wasnít as
good as the fried chicken (somehow I had had a lot of chicken this trip,
and didnít want any more). It was still good, though. Debbie
had the barbeque chicken sandwich, which she also said wasnít great.
Nick had Mickey pasta, big surprise. But, the food wasnít the problem.
Our waitress was just plain dull. Now, I always recommend Prime Time
as the place to eat in MGM whenever anyone asks me about WDW. And,
you can usually count on a rousing good time here. But, it is one
of those experiences that really depends on the CM you end up with, and
we just had bad luck today. She was friendly, but not enthusiastic,
and not a lot of teasing went on. I was glad we didnít have her last
trip when traveling with friends (we got a good ribbing that time).
But, Iím certain it is just this one CM, as insanity was exploding in the
two rooms adjacent to us. Just bad luck, I guess.
If you get a dull CM at Prime Time, you have to try again. If the main entertainment is actually the TV loop, you have had a bad meal. But, this is the first dull meal weíve had here, and you can usually bet on a good time at this place.
After lunch, I wanted to get a Fast Pass for Millionaire, and Nick wanted to do Star Tours. So, I went off in one direction, and Debbie and Nick in the other. Now, when I got my Fast Pass, the time said between 3:25 and 4:25, which was confusing to me because the shows are at a fixed time. I asked the CM at the FP distribution, and he said return at 3:25, the seating would be for the 3:45 show. I donít think this was the right advice, exactly.
|In any event, I headed up to Star Tours, hoping to catch Debbie and
Nick in line. Instead, I ended up just riding Star Tours myself.
I love the queue here ( I only spent a few minutes outside, most of the queue was in the building). It is still imaginative and funny. And the ride is still a kick in the pants, though we all three agreed it is showing itís age. When Debbie and I were still ďdatingĒ, and we made our first ďtogetherĒ trip to Disneyland, Star Tours was the hot new ride. It was the one people stood in line for two hours at a time. That will be 15 years ago this spring! So, Star Tours could stand a major upgrade. Iíd love to see a new film in here, with some of Lucasís new ideas incorporated (after all, new Star Wars films are rolling out), but I doubt thatís going to happen. Iíd hate to see this one-time champ continue to wither and eventually close, though. It would make me feel pretty old, for one thing.
I do still like this ride, myself. It could just use a shot in the arm.
I tried one time during the Star Tours queue (trying not to be annoying) to raise Debbie on her cell phone, but could not get a signal). On the outside, I tried to get her again, but got a recording this time saying her phone could not be reached. I just wandered around outside the front of Star Tours, and we eventually all ran into each other. Good luck. Normally, the cell phones work great, but there do seem to be small patches on property that are uncovered.
|After Star Tours, we let Nick play on the Honey I Shrunk The Kids playground.
This still appeals to him, and it is pretty fanciful. Debbie and
I sat down for a cold drink at that little popcorn/snack stand next door.
He played until the appointed Fast Pass Time, then we collected him, and
headed for Millionaire.
But, when we got there, just a little after our window had opened, we were told there were no seats, and come back for the 4:35 show. Get back about 4:15. Keep that in mind for the next part of the Millionaire story.
We went down to ďWalt Disney, One Manís DreamĒ. I was surprised that Nick really wanted to see this, and Debbie was tolerant, so we went in. I enjoyed this enormously, as I like looking at the lives of people I admire, and Walt is pretty high on my list. The displays and text through the walk through portion of this attraction are very good, and the film in the theater is excellent. Itís amazing how many times Walt was ground into the dust, dealt some very nasty blows by fate, and still kept going, determined to see his ideas play out. Iíve had a failed business, and once was enough for me. Iím playing it safe now, working real jobs. This guy had a special kind of self confidence, to come back again and again, and to never stop taking these huge risks. Could he even have done it today, with venture capital and board room politics? Hard to say, but his story is certainly one of exceptional tenacity and self assurance.
|Anyway, after this, we went directly back to Millionaire. About
4:15. We were told we could not be let in for this how, because they
first had to admit everyone with Fast Passes that said 4:15. She
suggested we come back for the 5:25 show.
I swear to you that I did not loose my temper. But, I was firm in pointing out that we had been told--by this very same CM--to come back at 4:15. She hesitated for a moment, and then let us in.
*sigh* I am a big Fast Pass fan. But, they havenít quite figured out what they are doing with Millionaire. They need to work out the bugs here, and communicate the process a lot more clearly to the guests.
Millionaire was fun, the studio is cool--the scenery, music, and effects match the TV show pretty closely--and I thought the Regis fill in did a good job. I also like the little film with Regis at the beginning. Not to sound too egotistical, but I was a little disappointed that I never made the top ten leader board. I only missed one question, right near the end, and always tapped in the moment the panel lit up. Oh well.
Only the girl who got the fastest finger question got to play anyway. She made it to like 32 Kpoints, missed the 64 Kpoint question, and they then dismissed everyone. Allegedly, if she had done more poorly, they would have picked someone from the leader board to replace her. The questions were all pretty simple, though, so I donít think that was ever likely. Still, a fun time.
|After Millionaire, we did the Great Movie Ride. I like this ride
very much, and we had a lot of luck on this one. We had the gangster
switch, and both our original guide and our gangster were very good.
The gangster threatened the crowd just the right amount, and seemed genuinely
flustered by his situation. He also did a pretty good job of talking
to the Animatronics in his original scene.
I have seen the film finale to this ride several times now, but it still effects me every time. They have done a good job of selecting and editing these clips, because it makes you remember a lot of good movies, and good feelings. Overall, we had a very good ride, and I still rank GMR as a must do.
After GMR, we went under the hat, and played with the kiosks. Itís kind of fun, there are some interesting facts here. But, after you have answered all of the questions right, itís no big deal, and itís kind of used up. They had either be planning on constantly updating these, or doing something else with that space.
We then went down to the Villainís store, to buy some evil. We bought a bunch of things we didnít need--I just like the theme of this shop.
|Nick insisted on buying a tag to match his TOT tag at both the Rock
And Roller Coaster and Star Tours. For some reason, he didnít think
of this until the end of the day, so we actually let him run to both attraction
shops himself while we messed around in the Villainís store. He is
at the age, and knows his way around MGM well enough that we felt OK with
Somewhere along the line, we actually did see Muppet Vision. I canít figure out when, but we all enjoyed it once again. Nick was chuckling the whole way through. Itís very corny, but the good thing is that it is still corny, no matter how many times youíve seen it. And the special effects really are rather clever.
We left the park a little early, because we wanted to have dinner at Oliviaís. We had our third great meal here, even though weíve never eaten here before this trip. I had the Shrimp Alfredo, and Debbie the Mahi Mahi. We also both had some splendid New England Clam Chowder (it was the special soup, not their house chowder). Nick had Mickey Pasta. Really? Yeah, no kidding. What a surprise.
Anyway, everything was good, but I did like the prime rib better, and Debbie said the snapper was better. The key lime smoothies lived up to expectations, and the service was superb. We are really taken with Oliviaís.
Back to the room for some trip report work before retiring. A short but tiring day. Except for the cold weather early in the morning, darn near perfect.
Oh, BTW. Whoever says this is a slow time of year, and that this is a slow year is nuts. MGM was packed. Not as busy as Magic Kingdom on New Year's Eve, of course, but very full of people. Long waits if you didnít use Fast Pass. Well over 40 minutes for GMR and Star Tours, over an hour for TOT.
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